By Jessica Vician
We all know that some kids just won’t eat vegetables. It doesn’t matter how you prepare them—covered in butter, cheese, or some other concoction—they know the veggies are there and want nothing to do with them.
Covering up the vegetables isn’t enough to trick your smart little produce-hater. But by trying some of these tricks, you might be able to sneak a vegetable or two into your child’s next meal or snack.
- Make it mushy
Sure, mushy food may sound gross to you, but these recipes feature broken-down vegetables, which means they don’t taste as strong and it’s more difficult to notice a vegetable texture in the food.
Add broccoli to your next round of mac and cheese by boiling it in water longer than you normally would—until the broccoli is extremely tender—and then mix it in with the pasta and cheese. The broccoli will practically dissolve while you stir and your child won’t taste it.
- Chop chop chop until you can’t chop anymore
If your child refuses even the sneaky mushy vegetables, try chopping and dicing and mincing them into the smallest pieces you can—you might even want to use a food processor to make them as small as possible.
For example, with the broccoli mac and cheese, chop the broccoli florets as small as you can, then add to boiling water. Use a sieve or very fine colander, since there will be small pieces, and drain, adding the mushy small pieces to the mac and cheese.
You can also use these tiny broccoli pieces (pre-boil) on homemade pizza, as well as any vegetable you purée into a paste. Just spread it on the crust in a thin layer before adding sauce or cheese and your child won’t ever know it’s there.
- Soup is your friend
The great thing about soup is that a lot of ingredients go in, but the flavors blend together so seamlessly that you often don’t taste exactly what’s in there. Think about it: carrots and celery are often key starters to soup, but by the time it’s done cooking, they’re either blended or so mushy that you don’t notice when you’re slurping.
The next time you make a soup your child likes, add extra carrots and celery to the beginning of the recipe so you maximize the nutrients he or she is getting. Try a broccoli and cauliflower cheese soup—while the cheese isn’t the healthiest option, at least the blended vegetables don’t have a strong taste. Or use an immersion blender to make a soup thicker and creamier while disguising the vegetables.
- Sneaky smoothies
As adults, we focus on sneaking vegetables like spinach and kale into our breakfast smoothies. Why not sneak those same vegetables into your kids’ smoothie treats? Make the green vegetable color part of the experience. Read Green Eggs and Ham with your kids, and then have a smoothie ready to go with bananas, strawberries, apples, and spinach. If the kids don’t see you add the spinach, they’ll never taste it but the color can be part of the experience. It’s all in the presentation, so make it fun and goofy and they’ll never notice.
Do you have tested techniques for sneaking vegetables into a picky eater’s food? Tell me your tricks in the comments below.